The National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) eased negotiation deadlock in a large sales and distribution company in Central Luzon through its earnest efforts to settle the bargaining impasse between the management and the union.

Handling Conciliator-Mediator Othello B. Tongio, Jr. ‘s resoluteness in aiding the parties to peacefully wrap-up negotiations has paved the way for parties to amicably settle the notice of strike filed by the union against the management.

A settlement was forged after management granted the union’s demand to regularize 26 agency-based workers hired through a manpower agency. The regularization of the agency-based workers took effect last 01 September 2022.

Through conciliation-mediation, parties were able to discuss issues on regularization, harassment, and refusal to bargain brought up by the union. Through the Conciliator-Mediator, a neutral third party, parties discovered the root cause of the issues forwarded by the union.

The demand to regularize the agency-based workers stemmed from the findings of the Department of Labor and Employment declaring one of the manpower agencies contracted by the company as a labor-only contractor. With this development, the union also insisted that workers hired by the other manpower agency be regularized since they are also performing work that is necessary and desirable to the distribution company’s business operations.

Under the law, labor-only contracting refers to an arrangement where the contractor or subcontractor merely recruits, supplies or places workers to perform a job or work for a principal. It is a practice prohibited by law to prevent the exploitation of workers and protect workers’ rights and employee benefits.

After a series of conciliation conferences or after five meetings, parties peacefully agreed to regularize the workers hired through labor-only contracting.

Parties also agreed to commence negotiations and schedule meetings for their collective bargaining negotiations after the management provided the union with its counter-proposal and ground rules.

In resolving the harassment allegations, the union also agreed to furnish management with the list of equipment needing repairs.

Conciliation-mediation, one of the main functions of the NCMB, is an alternative mode of dispute resolution that brings together two disputing parties to negotiate and settle issues through the guidance of a neutral third party. Conciliation-mediation may be filed with the Regional Branches of the NCMB by the union or management who is a party to a labor dispute. A formal request may be filed in the form of a preventive mediation or a notice of strike.

END/ Gillian Pearl L. Guerrero